I am fascinated by idealisation, the way the mind changes reality to suit its needs. We have limited senses and a limited capacity to interpret the inputs we receive, with which our mind must draw a picture of our surrounding reality. Our mental representation is our only reality. Things are as they are, but not for us. For us, things are as we perceive, interpret, classify, and remember them. The fact that this content is only in our minds doesn’t make it less real. It does exist and it is the reality we react to.
We perceive reality through a multi-layered filter formed by our senses, our intelligent mind that interprets the information, and our memory. Our mind is a filter, but isn’t filtering also a form of creation? Is our mind not like the artists who interpret reality in their paintings. We know that what we see in Monet’s painting is not ‘the real’ garden, but our mental representation of the garden, which we unabashedly call reality, is as ‘not real’ as the painting, just a representation of a reality we will never be able to grasp in full.
The world as we know it is painted, varnished by us. Our world, our mental representation, is there just for us. We are the source of our reality. Our mental representation of the world exists for us, created by us and it will die when we die. The world will remain, but our world, the only world we have known, will disappear, as we are its only source.
For I then came to realize that the facts of my life were not so many fixed items which only needed adding up and balancing. They were rather the continually receding horizons of the traveller who climbs a mountain.Marion Milner, A Life of One’s Own
Knowing that we are ‘the creator’ of our own reality doesn’t offer me any pleasure. If anything, some responsibility. Maybe not even that, for we are not responsible of the mental images of what we perceive and analyse. Everything is indirect, moulded to fit our mind’s needs. And so, our mind creates a personal reality to which it then reacts, further increasing the complexity of its creation. A response to incompleteness. Noise.
Things may be what they might, but what they are for us is different from what they are in themselves and from what they are for other individuals, at least partially different. What then does it mean to accept reality? What reality? It can only be ours, our own mental representation. Why would we not come to terms with it then, why would we feel in conflict with it? Why would our mind create expectations, desires, wants that are not matched by the mental representation of the world?
We must assume that our reality is only ours and that it is changeable, subjected to the whims of our mind, its ‘creator.’ And of course, that includes our definition of ‘I’, which is as filtered, biased, and (re)created as everything else. We are our mind’s passengers.
Why would one think that we can dominate the mind, our mind? It is all a mirror maze, an illusion. Yes, only partially, but how big is partially? And who would be the ‘I’ that dominates the mind? That ‘I’ who’s own perception changes as the mind perceives, interprets, filters, stores. That ‘I’ who has no permanent substance and who hardly has a will. What will? At the mercy of the flowing mind, thoughts never stop, they just flow.
Writing this post has made me physically dizzy. My mind is chasing its own tail. Spinning like a dervish, as my brother and I liked to do when we were kids until we fell on the floor, laughing at the twisting reality that surrounded us.
This post was ideated by my mind, conscious or unconscious. The only permanence is my existence. Or maybe without the “my”. It’s funny how this detachment between the mind and the (true) I comes with a stronger sensation of what reality is. Not a separation, but an immersion. Is it the mind what separates us from reality, paradoxically? One wonders if the mind is then a semi-transparent curtain, as if we were watching reality through a waterfall from the cave on the other side, with the relentless flow of water veiling our eyes.
We are not our thoughts, and we are certainly not our opinions. We just are.
All we can do is watch, witness.
Wow—you said it—a dizzying mind-blower of a post! So much rich and profound food for thought. I “get” it (at least to some extent) but am trying to imagine a skeptic friend or two even being willing to read it. It all boils down to the witness self, the true self, the only self that is, doesn’t it? The rest is just a product of our imagination, beliefs, and opinions. Each one of us lives within the personal world our own head, islands unto ourselves—until we figure out that we are one soul.Thanks for a thought provoking post.
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You expressed it much better than me!
I fully agree with you 🙂